He's Got the Horses in the Back — and Everything Else You Need to Know About Lil Nas X

This time last year, pretty much no one knew who Lil Nas X was, but that's all changed. The 20-year-old musician from Atlanta went viral in late 2018 when his hip-hop country hybrid song "Old Town Road" became a social media sensation (and stirred up a bit of controversy along the way). But how much do we really know about rap music's newest star? As it so happens, there's a lot more to Lil Nas X than just his famous song. Ahead, check out some of the best shots from his Instagram, plus a handful of fun facts that you might not have known about the singer behind the year's biggest smash hit.


His Real Name Is Pretty Cool Too

While his stage name Lil Nas X is pretty awesome, his real name is just as catchy. He was born Montero Lamar Hill, which isn't too shabby in itself!


His Name Pays Tribute to a Famous Rapper

Lil Nas X's name actually is a tribute to an incredibly successful rapper. Nas (real name Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) is a multiplatinum recording artist and founded Mass Appeal Records.


He's Steeped in Internet Culture

The young artist grew up in the internet age, so it only makes sense that he's been influenced by internet culture. In an interview with NPR, he explained how his "internet savvy" helped his career.

"I started using the internet heavily right around the time when memes started to become their own form of entertainment. I started to get into every side of the Internet around 13-ish. Not even intentionally, just learning how it works and how to use it to my advantage . . . Once I started to make music that I wanted to make, I didn't care at that point. 'Old Town Road' [is] the peak of me doing whatever I want to do with music. I was like, 'This one is special,' and I promoted it heavily on my account on Twitter. Then it caught onto Tik Tok, and the rest is history."


He's a Dog Dad

Lil Nas X is the proud owner of two Bernese Mountain Dogs, 7 and 9. Back in May, he tweeted out a plea for his followers to help him choose one dog to adopt. Only 15 minutes later, he tweeted again. "i got both."


He Just Came Out

On June 30, Lil Nas X came out in a set of tweets. His first tweet simply told fans to "listen closely to c7osure," which was interpreted as a coming-out but unconfirmed. He soon followed it up with a second tweet, sharing artwork from his album featuring rainbow palettes. "deadass thought i made it obvious," he commented.


He Knows the Importance of Music Education

Lil Nas X revealed to Rolling Stone that he's been musical since he was a little kid. He took up playing the trumpet in fourth grade, then made first chair in junior high before giving it up in high school out of fear of being labeled uncool.

"[I] didn't want to look lame. I wish I would have stayed in it."


His Hit Song Came From an Emotional Place

Although "Old Time Road" has become an upbeat meme, it didn't necessarily start out that way.

"'Old Town Road' came after a period of feeling like I was out of options. I was living with my sister. She was pretty much fed up with me being there. That's where the chorus lyric came from — it was me saying, 'I want to leave everything behind,' he explained to Time.

"But during the month of me making [it], I gave it a different meaning, so that the 'Old Town Road' would be the symbol for success."


He Was Removed From the Billboard Charts For Not Being Country Enough

Controversy erupted in March 2019 when Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" was removed from Billboard's Hot Country chart, claiming "it does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version."


His Friendship With Billy Ray Cyrus Is the Best

After the "Old Town Road" controversy, country legend Billy Ray Cyrus spoke up in Lil Nas X's defense, and the duo apparently struck up a friendship. Cyrus appeared on the remix of "Old Town Road," and the duo performed together at June's BET Awards.


He May or May Not Have Run a Nicki Minaj Fan Account

New York magazine's Intelligencer reported that Lil Nas X used to run a viral Nicki Minaj fan account, known as @nasmaraj, and fans of that account seemed certain that he was the mastermind behind the high-engagement account. However, the singer's team denied that he had any connection to the account, and he himself told NPR that "it's like a big misunderstanding."


He Broke 1 of Drake's Music Records

On April 16, Lil Nas X broke the streaming record for most US streams in one week. "Old Town Road" was streamed 143 million times in just one week. Previously, the record was held by Drake's "In My Feelings," which hit 116.2 million streams in one week at its peak in 2018.


He Hit 1 Million Instagram Followers in Less than 10 Months

Following the release of "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X went from a nearly-unknown musician with just over a thousand followers to passing the 1 million mark only 10 months later, in April 2019.